Recognition of Good Anti-Corruption Practices in the Colombian Private Sector
The Alliance for Integrity, in joint efforts with the Colombian Global Compact Network and UNODC Colombia, launched a call in March for Colombian companies with a compliance strategy to submit their best practices regarding integrity strengthening and corruption prevention. An international jury of compliance experts, composed of partner entities such as the Inter-American Development Bank (BID), Natura Brazil, Sancor Seguros Argentina and Persé (Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility in Chihuahua, Mexico) selected the most innovative and successful practices among the many submissions. The awarded companies will be featured in a publication in October.
This is the first time that the Alliance for Integrity together with its partners will give this recognition in the country. The Recognition of Good Anti-Corruption Practices aims to give visibility to those companies that contribute to the fight against corruption in the Colombian private sector. It also seeks to amplify the replicability of these good practices in other Colombian companies, as well as in other countries of the region.
The publication comes at a key moment for Colombia and the world, since the ongoing pandemic has forced companies to implement different mechanisms to continue fighting corruption. A variety of new challenges arise for compliance, such as those related to data protection and cybersecurity, financing with limited resources and adapting to changing regulations and markets. The selected good practices can help to guide future compliance strategies and will be a great tool for interregional exchange and collective action.
The recognised good practices are the following:
- Caja de Compensación Familiar Compensar is a Social Security entity that seeks to create conditions that favour the personal and professional development of its affiliated workers and their families. Their good practice was recognised for evolving towards a culture of integrity under ethical principles and corporate values, as an organisational strategy and philosophy at the service of stakeholders and society in general. The strategy aims to prevent any undue and unfair practices by stakeholders. To this end, several measures were created, for example, the dissemination of the ethical standards and the report of the determination to comply with them in all activities of the organisation.
- Colombia Telecomunicaciones S.A E.S.P. is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country. It has been recognised for two best practices: Corruption Risk Management and Management of Conflicts of Interest. The Corruption Risk Management Strategy is aimed at creating more trust among stakeholders and minimising potential risks that could compromise the brand image. Raising awareness and training staff is a fundamental part of this strategy. The mechanisms used include procedures to report non-compliance with the principles of responsible business, encoded in Telefónica’s Code of Ethics. The Management of Conflicts of Interest is applicable at all levels of the organisation. Through training and awareness raising on applicable regulations and group guidelines, the strategy serves as orientation to prevent and identify potential conflicts of interest that may arise in the daily activities of the company.
- Empresa de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Bogotá (EAAB-ESP), a company operating in the water treatment sector, has been awarded for strengthening a culture of integrity within their business. Their strategy aims to develop an action plan that helps employees to internalise the key messages of the Code of Ethics. Various activities create awareness of the company’s principles and promote the importance of compliance measures. In this way, the Code of Ethics is firmly anchored in the corporate culture and actively lived every day.
- S.A.S. is a Colombian supplier of polypropylene resins that operates mainly in the petrochemicals sector. It has been recognised for its good practice called “Integrity, ethics and strategic behaviour in Essentia”. The objective of the good practice is to consolidate an ethical culture that establishes the expected behaviours in the organisation and in the relationship with third parties. It also seeks to make ethics a benchmark for behaviour in all interrelations of the organisation and its officials, and to create a framework of reference where integrity and ethical behaviours and actions are permanently promoted within and outside the organisation.
- Frontera Energy, a natural gas and oil exploration and production company, has also been awarded for two best practices: The Compliance Investigations as a Tool for Corporate Transformation and Promoting Integrity as a tool for Sustainability. Its strategy, which includes the two best practices, aims to take advantage of research findings in compliance and corruption prevention as input to restructure processes in which compliance risks were present through the establishment of risk mitigation measures consistent with the findings. Senior management constantly transmits compliance messages in internal and external business scenarios, the message being clear that compliance and business are inseparable.
- Grupo Energía Bogotá S.A E.S.P., a leading company in electricity and natural gas in the region, has been recognised for establishing an ethical channel for the management of reports and conflicts of interest. The Ethical Channel is aimed at guaranteeing best practices and combating the occurrence of situations that affect the work environment or are sources of alleged fraud, corruption events, or violation of Human Rights. It also seeks to protect the person who makes the report by ensuring there is no type of retaliation and to guarantee their anonymity.
- La Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas which is an autonomous government institution that dictates comprehensive care, assistance and reparation measures for victims of the internal armed conflict in Colombia, has been awarded for its Fraud Prevention and Investigation Strategy “Don't let them tell you lies”. The strategy seeks to identify risks of fraud in the processes of the unit, in order to adopt institutional measures to strengthen transparency and justice. In addition, the strategy is aimed at any citizen that wants to report an irregular event to bring it to the attention of the organisation.
- Transportadora de Gas Internacional S.A E.S.P., a leading company in the transportation and processing of hydrocarbons, has been recognised for the good practice called “Strengthening the Culture of Transparency and Integrity Through the Disclosure of the Concepts of Control Architecture and the Ethics and Compliance Programme”. This strategy aims to guarantee an ethical and transparent approach in the management of business operations, which is why a culture of “zero tolerance” is promoted against fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing and corruption.
- Universidad del Norte, a university in Barranquilla, Colombia, has been awarded for its anti-corruption best practice called: “Uninorte Ethics Line”. The objective of this strategy is to communicate or report irregular behaviours that go against the guidelines defined in the code of conduct of the university, the Internal Work Regulations or other internal university anti-corruption policies.Additionally, the organisations created videos (in Spanish language) to present their good practices, which can be found on the website of the Global Compact Network Colombia.
The winning organisations will also be recognised through a series of online seminars in which the main characteristics of the good practices will be presented, focusing on business integrity and transparency. As a final product, the first publication of good anti-corruption practices will be made available by October in the virtual libraries of Global Compact Colombia, Alliance for Integrity and UNODC Colombia.
Authors: Marco Pérez and Kevin Pöll